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Iron & Wine – Our Endless Numbered Days

Our Endless Numbered Days reminds me of those summer days of staring into the tranquil peace of a lazy afternoon.



There is a stir of melancholy in the air whenever summer finally arrives. Warm, hid days turn to cool and dewy nights. Tall glasses of lemonade are sipped on porches listening to the silent movement of birds overhead. Fireflies shatter from their winter cocoons and approach the night with guided lights. For some, summer brings love and new passions while others are crushed under the boot of defeat and heartbreak. With emotions flying like the geese flying north from a long winter in the South, good music is appreciated.

Usually around this time I get the urge to listen to something with a lot of acoustics. Maybe the hard/metal music is better suited for the wintertime to warm the bones on those cold snowy days. I end up listening to a lot of folk music akin to Simon & Garfunkel or the newly heard Damien Rice. Now I have a new album to add to my summer collection. Iron & Wine’s Sam Beam has released his second full-length album Our Endless Numbered Days, combining the melancholy of folk music and southern blues to create a gentle, yet strong album to remind us all of our endless summer days. While skimming through the first couple of tracks, I find myself escaping the noisy and quick-hitting city streets to a soft cool dock watching birds fly overhead and wind rustle tree branches. Unfortunately this escape is only temporary and usually is interrupted by the end of the CD or some mundane task I have to perform.

The cover depicts a man with his eyes shut and a sad gleam on his face; a caricature of our somber man of Iron & Wine. Beam understands the meaning of blues, and with the frequent use of the banjo, piano and plenty of the acoustic guitar, he creates a small symphony of harmonious flower gazing. His roots may not be as impressive as others, but can you blame a man for living in Florida? Maybe that is where he gets all the inspiration to write about summer joys and sorrows. Within all this creation of beauty and such, there are his flaws. An example would be his use of lyrics. As beautiful as his rhymes may be, their place in songs do not make all the sense in the world. Yet you cannot blame such a man of emotion to care all too much about the lyrical place. I would not be surprised to hear people quote his songs in their profiles or as general life messages.

In his last song “Passing Afternoon,” Beam uses most of his quotable quotes. He gently depicts the life he sees within his personal life as well as those he sees within his day. Our Endless Numbered Days reminds me of those summer days of staring into the tranquil peace of a lazy afternoon. It is the epitome of the season, but carries the musical breadth to last through a snow storm.

(Sub Pop Records)


The Ritualists – Painted People

The Ritualists play some determined, strong-willed music




After listening to Painted People by The Ritualists, I was very surprised to learn that this is their debut album. This band shows a maturity in their music that I would not expect from a first album and provides inspirational sounding tracks with ‘reach for the stars’ type of guitar riffs. I hear a modern version of U2 in The Ritualists, along with an influence of Radiohead. Their songs are full, wholehearted post-punk hooks with a lead singer that has a sizeable range.

“Rattles” opens the album, and it’s the type of song that shows their audience that they are here to stay. It has a great build-up of excitement and intensity. The band explains that this song is “A combination of dark, deep-pocketed verses juxtaposed with big, flashy choruses is a key element to tracks”.

Ice Flower” and “Worthiest One” welcomes an electronic wave to the album and showcases just how impressive lead singer Christian Dryden’s range is. His ability to hit those high notes with such conviction puts my falsetto abilities to shame. “Worthiest One” brings this sort of nostalgic feeling- it’s a rock ballad with a floaty guitar riff.

“She’s The Sun” is a great follow-on from “Worthiest One” as it transfers the mood upwards and directs the music into more of a hypnotic vision, which conveys “the band’s inner Sixties Love Child”. “I’m With The Painted People” has a really relatable background to the song. Dryden felt a larger than life inspiration from people like David Bowie and Simon Le Bon, these artists felt like soulmates, which can be lonely at times. It wasn’t until he ventured out into the clubs of the lower east side of New York which helped him feel comfortable to express his creative vision freely. The song is all about finding like-minded people.

There are hooks galore and catchy choruses in pretty much every song. “With this record, I’ve specifically tried to be anthemic,” admits Dryden. “I’ve always loved going to shows, where immediately after the performance, and even on the ensuing days after, you just can’t help but remember and sing the songs you’ve just heard. It’s almost like a higher form of communication.” The Ritualists play some determined, strong-willed music and Painted People shows hints of variations with different genres explored throughout. They sound motivated and in return have produced motivating music for their listeners.

(Out Of Line Music)

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The Decline – Flash Gordon Ramsay Street

What The Decline get absolutely spot-on is their clinical, unrelenting brand of skate punk



The Decline

It’s possible that since punk broke through to the mainstream in the mid to late ’90s, listeners outside of Australia think Frenzal Rhomb are the only band to have come from the lucky country. It’s true that during the rise of that Epitaph and Fat Wreck sound, Frenzal Rhomb became the namesake of the genre from Australia. However, Australian punks know that their history stretches long before the release of Survival of the Fattest. From the legendary sounds of The Saints to the rock n’ roll infused punk of Radio Birdman, Australia’s punk rock history is not only rich but very much precedes the genre’s mainstream explosion.

Frenzal Rhomb were another chapter in punk down under and for many, they opened a lot of doors. If not at the very least, proved that there were fertile grounds for new bands to emerge across the vast land. Western Australia’s The Decline formed in 2005 and quickly showed their talent for writing up-tempo melodicore that shred as much as it soared. From their 2010 debut, I’m Not Gonna Lie To You, it was clear that the band were equal parts snotty, urgent, funny, and melodic. Like the Frenzal Rhomb formula, they’ve got all of it in spades with a mean streak of Australianness that is both endearing and extremely relatable. Their latest album is no different.

From the title alone you can tell you’re in for a shedload of fun, and while it’s easy to think that Flash Gordon Ramsay Street is just goofy humor, it’s actually got a lot of pointed commentary too. From the animal-supportin’, veggie-lovin’, attack on meatlovers and meatheads (“Brovine”), to the real-estate market questioning “Smashed Avo”, there’s plenty of current talking points that The Decline run through. Sure, you also get vegan buffalo wing recipes (surprisingly, not the song titled “Bullet With Buffalo Wings”) and a love for The Legend of Zelda, but who says you can’t sing about Marxist theories while talking about your love for Nintendo?

What The Decline get absolutely spot-on is their clinical, unrelenting brand of skate punk; taking plenty of cues from the best of the NOFX / No Fun At All up-tempo, hardcore-derived brand of punk. The hooks on Flash Gordon Ramsey Street are as infectious as horny teens on spring break, highlighted by the endless harmonies on songs like the terrific “It Was Always You” and the call and response male-female vocal attack of “Verge Collection”. Brevity is also key, as the majority of the songs here never overstay their welcome with the longest clocking in at just 3:15 (the wistful closing of “Josh”).

Flash Gordon Ramsey Street is concise, to-the-point, and a furious medley of skate punk urgency that is relevant to young adult life as punks in Australia. Great production values to boot mean you can’t go wrong here.

(Pee Records / Thousand Islands Records / Disconnect Disconnect Records / Bearded Punk Records)

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